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Cyprus

Activists attacked, threatened with shotgun, bird protection group says

A bird caught in an illegal mist net

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has said one of its members was threatened with a shotgun and attacked by a group of bird trappers in the district of Famagusta on September 12.

In a statement, CABS said that one aggressor threatened the activist with a shotgun and pointed the weapon towards his chest, while he was monitoring the garden of a notorious trapper in Sotira.

According to the organisation, the aggressor and owner of the garden is a known poacher who regularly appears as the spokesperson for the trapping lobby.

“His site is well known to CABS and the authorities and has been reported for illegal trapping on numerous occasions. As soon as our bird guard team detected an illegal bird calling device within the fenced property, we reported the case to the Game Service,” CABS’ statement said.

“However, one of our team members was stopped by the owner of the site who unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse and then threatened the activist with a loaded gun, aiming it at his chest.

“Soon after, other people joined the trapper, grabbing and pushing the CABS member around and threatening him with physical harm,” the organisation’s Wildlife Crime Officer Bostjan Debersek said in the statement.

Further violence was avoided after a Game Service patrol car arrived at the scene.

CABS added that the authorities seized the illegal bird traps and charged the perpetrator. The organisation also filed a complaint for violence and death threats against their member.

The statement said that over the past weekend, CABS members faced two more assaults.

The first involved two volunteers who were attempting to locate some illegal quail callers and were chased by a group of illegal hunters.

The second one saw a CABS team in Liopetri escape a dangerous situation during which some bird trappers threw sticks and stones at them.

The team was also allegedly chased by car on the highway while trying to get to the closest police station, according to the organisation, which added that images of the CABS vehicle and plate number were subsequently posted by one of the assailants on Facebook saying ‘wanted’.

“Violent aggression is no form of defence for such relentless and destructive wildlife crime, and we will not be intimidated, said Debersek.

“However, we urge the authorities to bring this person to justice for their criminal and dangerous behaviour. The Republic of Cyprus desperately needs a harder rule of law, but it seems to us that this goal is still very far away.”

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